Three down, three to go this week as we take a look at the Gold Coast Suns next.
Pre-Season Prediction: 16th
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Current Position: 16th
Forecast: A finish between 15-18
Started the season with three wins. Since then, its been all downhill for the Gold Coast Suns as they face the prospect of another disappointing season despite the amount of talent at the club.
The club has been dreaded with injuries, but you can only use that excuse for so long. The best teams ensure their list management is in top notch to deal with these sort of scenarios if and when they come. Rodney Eade and co. obviously don’t have that and his position as head coach has be in jeopardy.
The Suns are so far behind fellow-newcomers GWS its not funny. The Giants were also decimated by injuries in 2015 but still managed to finish a respectable 11th and look at them now, in the hunt for a top four spot. The contrast between the two clubs is quite stark.
Anyway, lets take a look at what’s gone right and wrong for the Suns as well as their star player and star rookie/recruit.
What’s Gone Right
Not a lot has gone right for the Queensland club so far in 2016, but effectiveness inside 50 is of a top eight standard of 50 per cent, however, this number would be a lot higher if they were getting the ball in their consistently – worst ranked side for inside 50s with 46 per game.
The Suns have shown that their forward setup of Tom Lynch, Jack Martin and Brandon Matera can kick goals when the ball is coming down there so there is potential there for Gold Coast to build on for the rest of the season.
Their the fifth best side in the competition at limiting turnovers, restricting themselves to just 69.5 per game, however this figure could be just down to disposal numbers which are understandably low.
So in terms of stats, there’s not much to get excited about, however when fit and firing, the Suns can be a scary bunch so its just a matter of getting their best players on the park together. There is definitely promise for the future and their casualty list is starting to narrow down in the last few weeks so a strong end to the season should be expected from Rodney Eade’s side.
What’s Gone Wrong
Note that all the club reviews won’t include injuries as a reason for failure and acknowledging that the Suns’ injury list is quite bad, there’s more to it and there are other problems that need to be addressed and resurrected.
For starters, the Suns aren’t getting their hands on the ball full stop. Their the lowest ranked team in the league for disposal numbers, only averaging 349.6 a game. When they do get the ball, they aren’t using it well enough, going at 71 per cent efficiency, the second lowest, somehow better off then Sydney’s 70 per cent efficiency.
As a result of poor disposal numbers, their clearance numbers have taken a shellacking with just 33.7 per game, the worst in the competition.
Off-field, the club is struggling as well. Star midfielders Jaeger O’Meara and Dion Prestia have yet to re-commit to the club and are at risk of leaving for greener pastures. They’ve had suspension issues, fan troubles, low crowd attendances – their loss to Sydney a few weeks back was the lowest crowd attendance at an AFL game in 24 years – and their new Chairman Tony Cochrane can’t keep his mouth shut, engaging in a war of words with Brisbane Lions director Leigh Matthews.
Also, a radio interview in which Cochrane suggested the club had erred in hiring an untested senior coach in Guy McKenna when entering the competition, despite his record being better than Eade’s. Sacking McKenna, I feel, was the club’s worst decision to date.
Key forward Tom Lynch has been outstanding in a poor team this season, kicking 39 goals so far, to be third in the Coleman Medal race behind West Coast’s Josh Kennedy and Sydney’s Lance Franklin. Lynch has proven he is incredibly crucial to the Suns’ future and as a young vice-captain is a surely a future All-Australian.
While Gold Coast have had their injuries problems, Lynch has played all 12 games this year, backing up from his 20-game season in 2015. Averaging 14 disposals, seven score involvements and six marks per game, Lynch is certainty not afraid to make his impact felt.
Along with Lynch, Dion Prestia has been solid in the midfield, averaging 26 disposals, ten of them contested and five tackles per game. Aaron Hall has also proven he can be impactful on the contest when on the park and despite only playing 17 games in the last two years, skipper Gary Ablett continues to lead the club in the best way possible, averaging 26.8 disposals a game as well as a few goals.
In terms of recruits from other clubs, Matt Rosa has been serviceable since crossing from the Eagles. Another former Eagle in Ryan Davis has benefited from the club’s lengthy injury list to play nine games. Daniel Currie competed hard in the ruck when given his opportunity before getting injured.
Jarrad Grant has done some good things in his five games, but has found himself in the NEAFL in recent weeks.
Second Half Expectations
Their draw is tough. They were gallant in a 26-point defeat to Hawthorn down in Tasmania yesterday afternoon. St Kilda and Brisbane follow in the next fortnight before taking on top four contenders the Bulldogs. Games against Essendon and Port Adelaide at home give the Suns a chance to pick up a few wins between now and the end of the season.
I’ll give them four more wins which will take their record to 7-15 and they’ll stay where they are in 16th position.